Olympic Games: Group A preview

Robertas Kliunka
Staff Writer
2021-07-22 06:44
Credit: BNS, FIBA, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/A.Zaikauskas
Credit BNS, FIBA, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/A.Zaikauskas

Group A of the Olympic Basketball Tournament will undoubtedly attract a ton of attention around the world simply because of all the stars in it. The group contains 18 NBA players and six from the EuroLeague teams, so there is no shortage of incredible athletes. At first glance, basketball fans could think that it will lack in competition. However, Team USA lost two friendly matches, France lost all three friendlies. Meantime the Czech Republic completed a huge upset against Canada to qualify for the Olympics, so it’s anybody’s game.


Team USA has won gold in three straight Olympics. However, this year, the Americans don’t look like the invincible basketball giants they were in Rio fives years ago. The USA probably had the toughest preparation out of all the Olympic teams. Even though Gregg Popovich is considered one of the greatest NBA coaches ever, his team lost two straight games against Nigeria and Australia. The Americans also lost Bradley Beal to health and safety protocols, Kevin Love to injury, and Zach LaVine (temporarily), who did not travel with the team to Tokyo. The team arrived with only eight players, including JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson, who were last-minute replacements for Love and Beal.

On the brighter side, LaVine is set to re-join the team for their first official game. Also, the NBA Finals just wrapped up, and Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Devin Booker will join Team USA shortly. Let’s also not forget that the Americans still have NBA superstars Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Jayson Tatum, so they are still considered favorites to bring home the gold. Coach Pop could not lead his team to the podium at the 2019 FIBA World Cup as the Americans lost to France in the quarter-finals. This summer, he has a chance for redemption, with the USA’s first game set against France on Sunday. If the USA can put their preparation problems in the past and win their first game, it could give the team a huge boost in morale and eventually carry them to a golden victory.

4 Keldon Johnson SF 198 cm 96 kg 21 yr.
5 Zach LaVine SG 196 cm 83 kg 26 yr.
6 Damian Lillard PG 191 cm 88 kg 31 yr.
7 Kevin Durant SF 211 cm 107 kg 32 yr.
8 Khris Middleton SF 201 cm 98 kg 29 yr.
9 Jerami Grant SF, PF 204 cm 100 kg 27 yr.
10 Jayson Tatum SF 203 cm 93 kg 23 yr.
11 JaVale McGee C, PF 213 cm 108 kg 33 yr.
12 Jrue Holiday PG 193 cm 82 kg 31 yr.
13 Bam Adebayo PF 208 cm 113 kg 24 yr.
14 Draymond Green PF, C 202 cm 104 kg 31 yr.
15 Devin Booker SG 198 cm 93 kg 24 yr.


France didn’t have the best Olympic preparation either. They lost all three of their friendly matches. Two of them came against Spain and one against the hosts of the Olympics, Japan. The winners of bronze medals at the 2019 World Cup brought back their core players - Gobert, Fournier, De Colo, Batum, and Ntlikina. They have also added talented athletes, like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Moustapha Fall, who will inject a lot of defense and physicality.

During friendly games coach Vincent Colet had to experiment in order to better integrate the new guys, which may be one of the main reasons the team wasn’t successful in pre-Olympic matches. However, the team’s continuity and experience are much more significant than the dropped friendly games. The coach will likely go back to playing guys that carried the team in the past championships. But if France doesn’t pull it together quickly, they may be in for a disappointing summer.

1 Frank Ntilikina PG 196 cm 86 kg 22 yr.
3 Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot SG 198 cm 99 kg 26 yr.
4 Thomas Heurtel PG, SG 188 cm 91 kg 32 yr.
5 Nicolas Batum SF 203 cm 91 kg 32 yr.
7 Guerschon Yabusele PF 203 cm 118 kg 25 yr.
10 Evan Fournier SG, SF 201 cm 93 kg 28 yr.
12 Nando De Colo PG, SG 196 cm 91 kg 34 yr.
17 Vincent Poirier C 213 cm 106 kg 27 yr.
21 Andrew Albicy PG 178 cm 77 kg 31 yr.
27 Rudy Gobert C 216 cm 111 kg 29 yr.
28 Petr Cornelie C 209 cm 100 kg 26 yr.
93 Moustapha Fall C 218 cm   28 yr.


There was no shortage of surprises in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. However, the Czech Republic may have presented basketball fans with the biggest upset of them all. After losing to Turkey in the group stage, the Czechs edged out Uruguay by one point to advance to the semi-finals, where the host team, Canada, was waiting. The Canadians were the clear-cut favorites to advance to the Olympics. However, head coach Ronen Ginzburg and his squad had other ideas. Even though they couldn’t match Canada’s talent, they managed to outplay them in a 103-101 overtime victory.

The Czechs have been playing together for a long time, so they know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Tomas Satoransky, Jan Vesely, Ondrej Balvin, and Blake Schilb are the foursome who take on most responsibility. Even though Tomas Satoransky is the only NBA player on the squad, the remainder of the team have plenty of experience on the international stage. The USA have faced the Czech Republic in the 2019 World Cup and won by 21. However, coach Gregg Popovich mentioned during one of his interviews this summer that he has a ton of respect for the Czechs because of their experience, coaching, and physicality. If the Czech Republic can beat Canada, they can beat anybody, and the world knows that.

1 Patrik Auda C 206 cm 107 kg 31 yr.
4 Tomas Vyoral SG 192 cm 82 kg 28 yr.
6 Patrick Samoura SG 198 cm   20 yr.
8 Tomas Satoransky SG 200 cm 93 kg 29 yr.
11 Blake Schilb SF 201 cm 95 kg 37 yr.
12 Ondrej Balvin C 217 cm   31 yr.
13 Jakub Sirina PG 185 cm 77 kg 33 yr.
15 Martin Peterka C 205 cm 100 kg 26 yr.
17 Jaromir Bohacik SG 197 cm   29 yr.
19 Ondrej Sehnal PG 190 cm   23 yr.
23 Lukas Palyza SF 201 cm 90 kg 31 yr.
24 Jan Vesely PF, C 211 cm 109 kg 31 yr.


Let’s start by saying that the last time Iran won a game in the Olympics was way back in 1948. They have lost four of five friendly games this summer by an average of 31 points. The team managed to beat Japan by 5, but the hosts of the Olympics aren’t considered a basketball juggernaut, so victory has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Iran does not have any players that compete at the highest level of international basketball, so it will be difficult to shock the world and produce an upset against any of the three other teams in the group.

3 Sina Vahedi   187 cm   20 yr.
5 Pujan Jalalpoor PG 185 cm   28 yr.
7 Mohammad Hassanzadeh PF 201 cm   30 yr.
8 Saeid Davarpanah SF, SG 190 cm   33 yr.
13 Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi SG, PG 198 cm 91 kg 29 yr.
14 Mohammadsamad Nikkhah Bahrami SF 201 cm 99 kg 38 yr.
15 Hamed Haddadi C 218 cm 120 kg 36 yr.
17 Navid Rezaeifar SG 191 cm   24 yr.
20 Mike Rostampour PF 206 cm   29 yr.
23 Aaron Geramipoor PF 208 cm   28 yr.
41 Arsalan Kazemi PF 201 cm 103 kg 31 yr.
88 Behnam Yakhchali SG 191 cm 87 kg 26 yr.


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Nukrypimas, bet is kur traukiat tokias pavardes: Klinka, Kliunka? Tr8ksta Klimkos ir bus trys parsiukai. A, straipsnis patiko.
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